LOL at ‘Prisoner of Second Avenue’ at Delray Playhouse
By Dale M. King
DELRAY BEACH – Maybe I’m getting old. Or maybe I’ve just seen too many Neil Simon plays.
My wife and I just saw “Prisoner of Second Avenue” at the Delray Beach Playhouse, and it made us laugh out loud (that’s LOL to the cyber-generation.)
Director Randolph DelLago said he picked “Prisoner” because the play, written in 1971, is virtually a perfect retelling of the world and the nation’s current economic troubles.
“Prisoner” is the story of Mel and Edna Edison, a typical husband and wife from the 1970s. Mel loses his job and eventually has a mental breakdown because he feels useless.
Edna then goes back to work to support them, making Mel feel even worse. The play has a happy ending, but the moral of the story is that the pressures of being out of work – or in the rat race – can eventually drive you nuts.
Two cast members hold the success of this play in the palms of their hands – Mark Hetelson as Mel and Ann Patrice Casale as Edna. Hetelson flips from bombastic to looney. He looks and acts like Danny DeVito at his craziest.
Edna is the slow-to-burn, stand-by-your man wife until she discovers there’s a real world out there. As the sun sets on this play, we even see her beginning to cave in to the tension.
Although the play is mostly about the two main characters, we get a glimpse of Mel’s quirky siblings who add a broader dimension to the overall tone of the play. Norman Steinthal, Leslie Rosenberg, Cindy Gaber and Connie Landy add a touch of normalcy in the midst of lunacy – but even they have their idiosyncrasies.
This is definitely a show worth seeing, both for the philosophical insight into economic woes, unemployment and the impact on the psyche, as well as its humor.
Delray Beach Playhouse is located at 950 NW 9th Street in Delray Beach. Call 561-272-1281 for tickets